Topic: FLETCHER, Reverend Henry James

Topic type:

Rev. Henry James Fletcher 

Henry James Fletcher was born in Kent, England in 1868 and came to New Zealand on the ship La Hogue arriving on 26 May 1874. Henry was then a boy of 6 years old. He was educated in Rangitikei. He left school at 13 years and was apprenticed to wheelwright TW Downes.

He joined a survey party and met Reverend James Duncan of Foxton. He changed his life and became a student missionary at Turakina pa under Reverend John Moss at Turakina and Reverend J Doull of Bulls. There was a big manse and school at Turakina where he trained. His first salary as Maori missionary was ₤65 per annum at Te Reureu Pa at Onepuhi Bridge. He learnt Maori from a Maori chief and was there six months teaching children and studying in 1894.

He took services in the Hunterville church where Ada Morris was organist. In 1895 he married Ada who was a daughter of GWD Morris of Hunterville. The Encyclopedia of New Zealand  states "Mr Fletcher was ordained in September 1898 and was placed in charge of the Taupo District in January 1895".

In March 1894 he was asked to go to Taupo to see about starting Mission work there and to find a suitable house. As there were no bridges he had to wade through many streams on the way and as a consequence he contracted rheumatic fever which postponed his wedding which finally took place on 21 January 1885. He was 27 when he married Ada Morris and the pair came to Taupo.

Henry led the local Presbyterian Maori Mission for 30 years. In fact he was the first missionary to be appointed by the New Zealand Presbyterian Church to work with Maori in the North Island. 

Henry Fletcher and his father-in-law, George Walter Drake Morris, built a small cottage in Heuheu Street a few hundred yards from the main street of Taupo. This was to be their home for the next few years. was a four-roomed cottage and it stood for 70 years.

A large manse was built in 1898 in Kaimanawa Street and it was the Fletcher's home until 1925 when the family moved away. The old manse was demolished in 1974. It was located on the rise on the Mount Tauhara side of Kaimanawa Street, near the Maori synod (1999) not far from the Wheretia Streetcorner.

The first church in Taupo opened in 1913. This was called First Church for many years, then St Paul's and it is now named for the Fltcher family. Madge Fletcher was the first baby christened at First Church on it's opening day 14 December 1913.

Listen to Oral History Recordings

Mrs Madge Morris and Miss Rona Fletcher 13 November 1991

Interviewed by Dr. Tangi Martin

Mrs Madge Morris and Miss Rona Fletcher 6 December 1999

Interviewed by Karen Williams

Tape 1 Side A Part 1 - Taupo township in early 1900's.

 Tape 1 Side A Part 1 - Entertainment

Tape 1 Side A Part 2 - Manse and Schooling.

 Tape 1 Side A Part 2 - Work with Maori.

Tape 1 Side A Part 3 - Rev. H.J Fletcher - Travel and Church.

 Tape 1 Side A Part 3 - Manse and AC Baths.

Tape 1 Side A Part 4 - Entertainment and activities.

 Tape 1 Side A Part 4 - Location of buildings.

Tape 1 Side B Part 1 - Living conditions.

 Tape 1 Side A Part 5 - Rev. Fletcher's work.

Tape 1 Side B Part 2 - Marriage and working life.




Tags: Home Front

FLETCHER, Reverend Henry James

First Names:Henry James
Last Name:Fletcher
Date of Birth:c. 1868
Place of Birth:Kent, England